Poetry » Annie Diamond »

Christopher Street

She drank a Jameson and ginger ale
and I wanted to kiss her and our knees
brought forth a constellation in the dark

I tried and failed to find a name for it

Conversion of Paul the Apostle, Revised

He found his soul redesigned
not on a sunburned road to Damascus
ringed in brilliant light

but in the familiar autumn dusk
of once-home, behind the wheel, turning left
with coffee in the cupholder

and it wasn’t some
miraculous shift but another ache of being:
cracked fingers-pulled teeth-hot water burn,
bound to happen sooner or later.
The trees bent from him
like lovers sleeping back to back

and he drove up the space between their spines,
wheeling through cold bone, warm blood, arriving
somehow at the heart: tattered fist, red knuckled,
screaming for more blood and pummel,
it wanted to hurt –

he tasted on his lips the twin salts of leave and return
as the sightless sun descended, exalting fallen leaves.

The First Fallen Leaf

There was no great revelation.
No divine voice spoke of solstice, of season, of should.

I knew nothing but the language of trees,
their alphabet of boughs, we were their tongues.

I was not brave
because I had no courage
because when there is nothing
there is nothing to fear.

I reached to earth.
I bent to flight.

I floated down and side to side
and I did not know the wind until she carried me in her waltz.

The grass was cucumber-wet
and I learned in that instant of color, of coolness, of can.

Looking up, I could not decipher
how far I had fallen
for I knew not
distance, but closeness

and above me my brothers bowed together
and made a fine lace against the blue
and gold firmament
and applauded me with their smoldering fires.

Poem for a Man in All Likelihood Deceased

to Lawrence Graver     Heidelberg, 1955
who made his name and whereabouts known
inside the cover of this first edition pink linen
bound book of cummings poems
that somehow stole across the sea
to a Massachusetts bookstore
where I     a camp counselor
with an afternoon off     paid
too much for it
the summer I was sixteen
because then there was nothing
worth more than poems that smelled
like someone had loved them long ago

I picture him outdoors     an expat
who needed reminding but otherwise
nothing     except a light
for his sweeter foreign cigarette


for Mark Rothko

I was negative 24 when you slashed
your last stroke on the kitchen floor
Red and Red on Grey, 1970
you might have called it
depending on the color of the pills

(I guess the second most important
decision you made that morning was
what clothes you wanted
them to find you in: I picture a t-shirt rumpled
on your aneurismal chest, work pants, bare feet)

I was negative 54 when you slashed
half the syllables from your name
fearing the Final Solution
might make its way
to Brooklyn Heights

(I guess you couldn’t risk
keeping your -witz about you)

You’d been 40 years gone
when I hallowed your fruit stall colors
at the gift shop
bought an eight-nine-cent postcard
and clutched it like tefillin

(I hope you didn’t leave
your whole rainbow behind
for us
I really hope you took
a piece with you)